“Oh. . Is that white hair?”
The amount of white hair on my head corresponding with lack of wrinkles on my face leaves everyone asking me that question. Even family members are now noticing it. You would think they ought to have in the 90s as it made its debut. Back when I was naive, my body was changing and suddenly the girls in my class were so pretty.
It was not a big deal at first but when white hair population on my scalp continued booming, fast, I thought: “Dammit, too much shampoo now!”
Let me tell you why.
I have kinky hair. I am in fact the only one in my family with it. Dad, who I supposedly got the gene from, had softer hair than mine. It must be inheritance from one of my ancestors. They could not leave me estates like normal families do. Back home, the softer your hair (and the fairer your skin) was, the more good looking points you scored. Naturally it was a battle accepting this gift from my ancestors. It took a considerable amount of convincing from my mum that there was nothing wrong with my hair.
I was in the last phases of acceptance, the last stages of ridding any abhorrence I held over my hair and adolescence happens. While busy noticing how the girls in my class were suddenly all shapely and wondering how come all these years I never knew, guess what they were noticing? My kinky hair! They renamed me Bhalo Koto (Koto is kinky hair in Kiswahili). I’ll finish my fingers counting the guys in my class who had hair like black pepper mosaic on their heads but why they pick me, on the one issue I was at war with, we will never know. I was to be known as Bhalo Koto for the rest of my school life!
I turned to using too much shampoo hoping to reconfigure my genetic structure. Shampooing it everyday, multiple times a day. Shampoo replenishing cycles in our bathroom were alarming. My mum must have thought she was being duped into buying half full bottles of shampoo. At some point she must have wondered why couldn’t our maid steal wheat flour and detergent like all the other maids in Kibokoni?
The most I ever got was a clean scalp smelling of fruity love, floral goodness and ocean mist. My hair remained true to its roots fighting back with all the kink it had. And now it was turning white. I blamed the white hair infestation on the shampoo overdose. Then I blamed the pretty girls in my class whose bodies were not seizing to shaping nicer by the day for turning me into an excessive shampoo user. Nah, that is a lie. I was naive, I doubt I ever blamed them really. The condemn must have ended with shampoo companies for not having a formula for solving my problem!
Many years later I proudly roll what my ancestors gifted me (I would have preferred a manor though). Now I get a different set of people who think I should dye it. What emoji fits this situation? Without judging, they should focus on baldies who salvage their hair evacuation situation by strategically combing any little hair left to cover the bare areas.
I blame pretty girls with shapely bodies!
* * *
Have you ever wondered whether we see colors differently?
I asked myself this way back when I thought kinky hair was not cool. Is the red I see same as the red you see? Could it be, what I see as red is what you see as blue? Could my red be your blue? Let me not confuse you. All this started from my wondering as to why people have different color preferences. Others love red while others love blue. I still marvel at why to some, color matching is a natural occurrence while others dress up like they have been bombed by an IED, Improvised Explosive Disco ball. Some people get color, others just don’t. For a long time I could not answer the question what’s your favorite color? I accepted life is too short to deny myself the pleasures of loving all colors. Seriously, I don’t do favorites. Yet others will happily live the rest of their lives in their preferred monotone.
Fortunately for the world I have not been the only one with questions about color. As white hair tallying continued on my head, visual neuroscientists were attempting to answer the questions through research. They found out that color can be culturally induced and that is why a wedding dress in the West is white while in China it is red. Some color associations are biologically induced while some of it is learned. Color associations can also be cultural and that there are cultures that do not recognize “pink”. (To all my Kamba friends whoop! whoop!)
The conclusion of these researches is subjective color perception across people is widely the same, but it is also different. Not so helpful is it?
As we wait for science to prove our ability to recognize color along a spectrum, it is already clear as day that our approach to life is as different as the prints on our fingers. Pundits tell you this is as a result of our diverse backgrounds and exposure to different experiences and training that have shaped us. To say so is to mean each of us is a work of art. No two people can be the same. Seeing Different is Key to Style. If we want to make powerful photographs, we first and foremost need to develop our own unique styles through understanding how differently we view the world.
There is no sure path to style, if there was then perhaps photography would be a science. However, there is a key to opening a doorway to acquiring and legitimizing it. It begins with identifying with ourselves as unique beings and developing it from there. It is a process that takes laboring the years and with the right amount of determination, you create consistency and with consistency comes establishing a body work that identifies with you. Simply put, style eventually identifies with you.
Having mentors and following in their footsteps is good avenue to pursue a style of your liking but we cannot be them because remember, they see the world in the own distinct ways as individuals. In our pursuit of uniqueness in style, we shall never copy the masters but emulate as good students do.
The ability to style independently is what sets us apart. Find your kink and rock it!